Monkey deaths, subpar animal care at Harvard nets $24,036 fine

Harvard Medical School must pay $24,036 (U.S.) in fines for a number of animal welfare breaches including the deaths of four monkeys used in research, according to an order by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

The financial penalty, which was issued this week for incidents that occurred between February, 2011 and July, 2012, is a rare sanction for the federal regulator. The Ivy League institution was faced intense pressure and changed leadership when the incidents were previously made public, according to the Boston Globe.

Incidents included giving too much anesthetic to a monkey, which caused acute renal failure. The animal was later euthanized. In another case, a watering device malfunctioned, which caused dehydration in two primates; one  had to be euthanized. A macaque monkey died in its cage after it got tangled in a chain that was holding a toy meant to entertain the animal.  On another occasion, an animal escaped from its enclosure. Also, when another got out it hurt a fellow lab animal. Other animals showed signs of psychological stress such as patchy hair and “unusual” behaviour. One animal was discovered with a metal clip in its mouth.

Most of the problems occurred at Harvard’s New England Primate Research Center in Southborough, which is to be closed by 2015. Animal welfare organizations such as PETA were heartened by that decision. Still another facility will continue to operate.

h/t Boston Globe Photo Stop Primate Animal Testing


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